My hand moves without thought. Before I realize what’s happening, it’s holding my phone, finger reaching for the power button. I push, the screen lights up, and my eyes go to the top left.
No notifications. No updates.
I unlock the screen and cycle through the apps, hoping to find something. To see that someone out there acknowledged my existence. A few moments later, and it’s over. One notification. Someone liked some dumb comment I made on Facebook, and for a second, I feel like my opinion matters.
Then the screen goes black, and I return to real life, only to find myself reaching for the phone a few minutes later. I catch myself this time, fingers go ridged, bent sharply at the knuckles.
What am I doing?
What am I expecting to see on the phone. I’m not waiting for a message from someone. I didn’t see a notification light, nor did my phone vibrate. My brain stops focusing for a second, and instantly, I feel the desire to be validated.
And I’m pretty sure this isn’t okay. Does it make a difference if I see that someone favorite a Tweet or liked my status now vs. a few hours from now? Even a few hours from now, does it carry any actual weight in reality?
But I feel this need to check. I want to check. Just to see. Why not just take a quick peak?
Is this what an addict feels like?
Am I like the smoker who’s lone hand starts rubbing the tips of their fingers together, waiting for that next cigarette to be between them?
Finally, I decided it was time to stop.
It Starts with a Fast.
River Valley Church does this thing every January called 21 days of prayer and fasting. You pick something, you give it up, and you try to fill that void with prayer and Bible reading and time spent with God.
Sounds simple, right? I decided it was a little too simple, so this year, I decided to give up about 7 different things in varying degrees. And one of those things was ‘push notifications’ for all social media/games/etc.
For the uniformed (and elderly), a push notification is a little icon that appears on your phone screen telling you that some application on your phone has a message for you. After a while, these things can turn into instant “gold star” for the bored, sad, and impatient.
So I decided to turn them off for all applications. Facebook, Twitter, instagram, Snapchat, Trivia Crack. The works.
When I know there isn’t going to be some random notification in the corner of my screen, I have a lot less of a reason to randomly turn on my phone screen.
But going beyond that, I’ve limited myself on how often I check social media. I can’t check it till I have breakfast. I can’t check it an hour before I go to sleep.
And I do all this in the hopes that I can break the habit. That I can base my worth off what I actually do with my life. That I can feel like I matter when I actually interact with people. Directly. On purpose.
I do it to be more intentional with my actions.
And though the fast was only 21 days and has actually ended, I’ve kept going. And i don’t really plan to go back. I don’t need to know right away when someone likes my photo on Instagram. The notification will still be there when I check later on.
I think it’s something a lot of us could work on. Being here now. Worrying less about whether or not someone saw something we said or posted. What matters is what you did, not that someone saw it.
Jesus once said this
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
He may have been talking about giving to the needy, but I think this can easily apply to all of our actions. Don’t do it just to be seen. Don’t get obsessed with how many people respond to your actions. Don’t “do it for the vine”.
Just live your life. That’s what I’m going to do.
Or at least, try to do. And then I’ll write about it on here. And hope people read it. And comment.
Wait a second…